Christians and idolatry



(2 Kings 17:41 NIV) Even while these people were worshiping the LORD, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their fathers did.

In those days, the people worshipped God but continued to serve idols. We may condemn such behavior. Christians all know that there is only one God and would shun away from the thought of bowing down to another deity. Yet idolatry is more than bowing down to another deity. An idol is anything that we regard more highly than God.

(Colossians 3:5 NIV) Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

(Matthew 6:24 NIV) “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

In both verses, the object of worship or dedication is not a deity but simply something we treasure as important. There is no need to restrict the use of idols to only deities or false gods. Therefore, in this sense, Christians can also be guilty of committing idolatry!

What are some possible idols Christians can have in their lives? Let’s look at what the Bible teaches about idols.

(Exodus 20:1-3 NIV) And God spoke all these words: {2} “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. {3} “You shall have no other gods before me.

An idol is something one places before God. It is something we regard as more important than God. If we were to ask a general question “Which of us have things in our lives that we put as more important than God?” the answer will almost certainly be none. That is because we cannot imagine ourselves theoretically putting something as more important than God. Yet we do that in our practical lives. How we spend our resources is often a good guide as to what we consider important in our lives? Are we willing to spend hours in front of the TV but stingy about the five minutes we spend with God? Are we willing to spend hundreds of dollars on a dress but stingy with offerings to the church?

How do I spend my money each month?

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How do I spend my time? Exclude all necessities (like eating, sleeping) and rank them.

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What hinders us from serving God?

(Matthew 6:24 NIV) “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

(1 Samuel 7:3-4 NIV) And Samuel said to the whole house of Israel, “If you are returning to the LORD with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” {4} So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only.

What is preventing me from serving God more faithfully today?

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What do I put my trust in? What do I attribute my success in life to?

Finally, idols are objects in which we place our trust in. The Jews attributed their success in life to the work of their idols.

(Exodus 32:1-4 NIV) When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” {2} Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” {3} So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. {4} He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

(2 Kings 1:2-5 NIV) Now Ahaziah had fallen through the lattice of his upper room in Samaria and injured himself. So he sent messengers, saying to them, “Go and consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, to see if I will recover from this injury.” {3} But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Go up and meet the messengers of the king of Samaria and ask them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going off to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?’ {4} Therefore this is what the LORD says: ‘You will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!'” So Elijah went. {5} When the messengers returned to the king, he asked them, “Why have you come back?”

(Deuteronomy 32:37-38 NIV) He will say: “Now where are their gods, the rock they took refuge in, {38} the gods who ate the fat of their sacrifices and drank the wine of their drink offerings? Let them rise up to help you! Let them give you shelter!

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What gets me angry with God?

If we get angry with God when our job is not proceeding well, then we are placing our job as more important than God. We are making our job the idol in our life.

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What temptations do I usually fall into?

If you always fall into a particular sin, that can give you a clue as to what idols you have in your life. This is because you put that thing above God and would rather satisfy that desire rather than please God.

For example if you frequently find yourself lying to get business, maybe your idol is money, which you value more than you value God.

If you always fall into sexual temptation, then sex becomes your God.

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Conclusion of findings

After going through the exercise, summarize the answers. My most likely idols are:

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